A bit about fonts...

Printable version

Font problems are among the primary causes of job delays and output errors. Output cannot be accomplished until we have the same fonts available for our output that you used to create your files. We will not substitute fonts unless specifically instructed by you to do so because unexpected results often occur.

Screen Fonts

Screen fonts are necessary for the computer to create a visual representation of the letters on the monitor. Screen font icons on a Macintosh resemble a small suitcase, while PC screen fonts have .PFM extensions.


Printer Fonts

Printer fonts are necessary for an imagesetter to form the letter on film. The screen font contains simpler letterforms and critical letter spacing information. Printer fonts are easily recognizable on a Macintosh by the icons representing the fonts. Each font manufacturer utilizes a unique icon to help identify their fonts. Icons for Adobe fonts contain a stylized A symbol, while printer fonts on PCs have a .PFB filename extension.


How to achieve stylized fonts?

While page programs offer you the option of stylizing any font in use with bold, italic, outline, underline, or other features, a manually stylized font is not available as a printer font—unless that specific version of the font is contained in your font library.

The use of stylizing features may result in the output of a poorly defined, pixilated version of your screen image. Select specific fonts from your font menu if you desire special font styles or design concepts such as bold, italic, outline, underline, etc. Do not manually stylize fonts in page programs.

Fonts in PDF files

In PDF files both PostScript (type 1 and type 3) and TrueType fonts can be used. By preference these fonts are also included in the PDF file so the file can be viewed and printed as it was created by the designer. If certain fonts are missing from the PDF file, Exchange and Reader will automatically try to emulate the missing font by using one of the Multiple Master fonts that are included in these programs. This way, the document will not be representated exactly as the designer wanted it to, but at least the text won’t reflow.

The Multiple Master fonts that are used by Acrobat are:

What fonts are used in a PDF?

Acrobat, Reader and Exchange offer a ‘Font info’ option under document info. This option will not list all fonts used in the document. It will only show the fonts that are used on the active page. Do not rely on it to get an accurate overview of fonts used in a PDF document. To get an overview of all fonts, you need a plug-in like Enfocus PitStop.

Embedding fonts

Acrobat Distiller offers an option to automatically add missing fonts to PostScript files it has to process. In the font locations menu, the user can define several folders that have to be searched for fonts that are missing in the PostScript file. Distiller only needs the printer fonts, it does not need the screen fonts.

Fonts that are not included in PDF files

There are some fundamental differences between Acrobat 3.x and Acrobat 4.x in the way fonts are handled. There are 14 fonts that Distiller 3.x never embeds in a PDF file. These are: Courier, Courier-Bold, Courier-Oblique, Courier-BoldOblique, Times-Roman , Times-Bold , Times-Italic, Times-BoldItalic, Helvetica, Helvetica-Bold, Helvetica-Oblique, Helvetica-BoldOblique, Symbol and ZapfDingbats. These fonts, excluding ZapfDingbats, are called the Base 13 fonts.

Acrobat 4.x has no problem embedding the above 14 fonts. It has another restriction: if the lecensing policy of a TrueType forbids the font to be included in a file, Distiller 4 will respect this restriction and it will not embed the font. So beware of those free fonts that you can download off the internet!

Subsetting fonts

It is also possible to only include those characters of a font that are actually used in the publication. This technique is called font subsetting. Using the ‘Subset fonts below XX %’ parameter of Distiller, you can decide how many characters have to be used in a publication before a subset of the font is included. RIPs will always use a subsetted font, even if the full font is already available on the RIP. This way text reflows caused by differences between fonts can be avoided.

There are two disadvantages to subsetting fonts

If you want to edit text in Exchange and the character you need is not included in the subset, it cannot be entered. Merging two files that contain a different subset of the same font can lead to missing characters.